Austin not enforcing regulations for boarding homes

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and editor JAYCE BEASLEY

kvue.com

Posted on September 24, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 24 at 5:40 PM

AUSTIN -- A fire Monday is shedding light on a growing problem in Austin. The number of unregulated boarding homes continues to grow.

"We are seeing more group homes in Austin," says Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Palmer Buck.

Twenty-seven residents are without their boarding home, Hannah's Place, after a fire Monday. Investigators charged Becca Gallardo with arson after they say she admitted setting fire to a laundry basket in her closet.

"She said she did it because she was angry," said AFD Captain Andy Reardon.

The operator of Hannah's Place says she's not licensed by the state, but she tries to keep the building up to code. The fire marshal cited her for not having working smoke detectors.

City leaders are aware of several unregulated group homes like Hannah's Place. A state law passed in 2009, HB 216, outlines guidelines for boarding homes in Texas. A spokesperson for the city says The City of Austin has not taken action to implement any of the guidelines.

A "task force was formed in 2004, issued a report in 2005, and morphed into an ad hoc committee with a five-year charge," Kyle Carvell with the City of Austin. "Organized efforts from the mayor’s office ended in 2009 and were absorbed by other community leaders and organizations."

A spokeswoman with The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, or DADS, says Hannah's Place has been investigated at least seven times since 2011. Each time the home has been cleared of any wrong-doing or violations. Since Hannah's Place does not provide services, such as feeding, bathing or caring for patients, it does not fall under the state's jurisdiction.

 

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